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Column: Come celebrate with the archbishop the jewel that is Donnelly


by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

Usually, by the tim of priestly ordination, the new priest acquires a personal chalice to be used for the celebration of Mass.

In my case, my personal chalice had belonged to Msgr. William Mullally, a St. Louis priest who had died five years before my priestly ordination.

I never knew Msgr. Mullally. One of my classmates grew up in the parish where he had served as a pastor for many years. The pastor of the parish at the time of my ordination had offered the chalice to anyone in our class. It was a much more beautiful chalice than I could have otherwise afforded.

On the base of the chalice my mother added a small cross that contained the diamonds from her engagement ring. It serves as a wonderful visual reminder to me every time
I celebrate Mass that my priestly vocation is truly the fruit of my parents’ vocation of Christian marriage.

On May 24, Pentecost Sunday, I will observe the 40th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. I used to think that anyone who was a priest for 40 years was really old! I was right!

During 2015, I am actually celebrating two important anniversaries — 40 years as a priest and 10 years as the archbishop of Kansas City in Kansas. I encourage anyone who wishes to celebrate these anniversaries with me to attend Donnelly College’s Shine Scholarship Dinner

at the Sheraton Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, on Sat., Oct. 10. Nothing would please me more than to help Donnelly College be able to serve more students.

Most Catholic colleges in the United States are sponsored by religious communities, e.g. Rockhurst (Jesuits), Benedictine College (Benedictine monks and Sisters), Notre Dame (Holy Cross Fathers), etc. Donnelly College is among only 11 Catholic colleges in the United States that are sponsored by dioceses or archdioceses.

Donnelly College and I were both born in 1949. Bishop George Donnelly founded the college for two reasons: 1) to provide affordable Catholic college education to the youth
of Kansas City and its surrounding communities; and 2) to encourage adults or what is termed today nontraditional students to take college level courses for their economic, social, civic and religious benefit.

Even though Donnelly College during the past 65 years has had to adapt to new circumstances in the community it serves, the mission has remained unchanged. Its mission statement today is:

“Donnelly College is a Catholic institution of higher education that seeks to continue the mission of Jesus Christ in our time by making the love of God tangible in our world. Specifically, the mission of Donnelly College is to provide education and community services with personal concern for the needs and abilities of each student, especially those who might not otherwise be served.”

What distinguishes Donnelly College today and throughout its history is the profile of the students who are served. Some 84 percent are first-generation college students, the first to earn a degree in higher education in their family. Sixty-eight percent of the students come from families with income levels of less than $18,000. You are probably thinking that the last number was a misprint. It is not.

The first dean of Donnelly College was Sister Jerome Keeler, a Benedictine Sister of Mount St. Scholastica Convent in Atchison. Sister Jerome had a well-earned reputation
as a brilliant educator and administrator. For a good part of its 65-year history, the Benedictine Sisters were the heart and soul of Donnelly College. They helped to create a culture at Donnelly that is focused on student success.

Student success at Donnelly College is not just passing students along no matter how poor their performance. Student success is equipping them to succeed well after they graduate from Donnelly.

At Donnelly College, we strive not only to educate students’ minds, but to nourish their souls as well. We do not attempt to proselytize the 53 percent of Donnelly students who are non-Catholic. However, our goal is not only to help them succeed in this world, but to get to heaven. They learn in an environment where God is at the center of every aspect of the college.

Through most of its history, Donnelly was a junior college. Today, Donnelly students can earn a bachelor’s degree in limited areas, as well as an associate’s degree. Amazingly, 92 percent of our associate degree graduates go on to pursue four-year degrees.

Monsignor Stuart Swetland, the president of Donnelly College, ranked first in his class at the U.S. Naval Academy and was a Rhodes scholar. He has served in the church’s higher education apostolate in different regions of our country for most of his priesthood. What attracted Msgr. Swetland to accept the presidency of Donnelly College is how perfectly it conforms to Pope Francis’ vision for Catholic higher education.

Monsignor Swetland succinctly states: “If Donnelly College did not exist, we (the church) would have to create it.”

I hope that you can come to the Shine Scholarship Dinner on Oct. 10. You will find it to be both enjoyable and inspiring. For information, please contact:

Msgr. Stuart Swetland Donnelly College
608 N. 18th St.
Kansas City, KS 66102 Or go to the website at:, or call (913) 621-8746.

If you cannot come to the Shine event, I encourage you still to make a contribution. Donnelly College is one of the jewels of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. Help Donnelly College change forever the lives of its students!

About the author

Archbishop Joseph Naumann

Joseph F. Naumann is the archbishop for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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